State Budget Scrutiny Reveals Ref C Shuffle
IB-2007-E (August 2007)
Author: Mark Hillman and Amy Oliver
Two years ago, lawmakers asked for a “timeout” from the spending restrictions of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) in order to allow the state budget to rebound from the recession of 2001-2002. Referendum C, approved by a narrow 52 percent to 48 percent margin, erased the tABOR spending limits for five years and permanently increased the spending caps thereafter. Voters were assured by Ref C proponents that K-12 education, colleges and universities, and health care would split the lion’s share of the resources if the measure passed. But a funny thing happened after Ref C passed. Spending on programs that rarely were identified with Ref C has grown at more than twice the rate of spending on education and health care. Now, some of the key players in convincing voters to pass Ref C are dissatisfied, and voters have cause to believe they were sold a bill of goods.